It took nine seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race to truly pay homage to the brilliance of club kid drag, an art form that sees femininity as not the end product of drag, but one of many tools used to create a character, a facade and – above all that – a piece of art.
Drag Race has historically favoured pageantry and beauty drag, often having a queen of club kid origin in each season to seem diverse, only to knock them out mid-season. But with New York comic artist Sasha Velour and Chicago favourite Shea Coulee winning the hearts of this year’s audience, club kid artistry refuses to be silenced, but championed and seen by the millions. Icons such as Leigh Bowery and Amanda Lepore have championed that set form in the late 20th century and their legacy still lives in across America and Europe. In London, clubs like WUT?Club and Sink the Pink have called for a reprise of the club kids, while New York and Chicago’s legacy lives on, inspiring new artists across Scandinavia and France.
Commemorating the club kids of today, we’ve picked out a few of our favourite night artists giving the middle finger up to gender and convention and living in a refreshing, reinvigorating and booming bubble of drag. From East London’s glitter fanatics to Chicago’s adoration for ‘more is more’, we’ve got the perfect recipe to liven up your Instagram feeds.
Imp Kid: @imp_kid
A Chicago night flower through and through, it doesn’t get much better than Imp. A multi faceted queen, Imp has just dropped her EP (which you can listen to here). Chicago has birthed the likes of Trixie Mattel, Kim Chi, Pearl and Shea Coulee, all boasting the craziness of Illinois’ centre of creativity and desire for something new and exciting. Often lurking in the shadows of the iconic Berlin nightclub, Imp is a queen of integrity, serving looks and longevity. An Instagram without Imp’s creativity is a sad Instagram indeed. Imp also appeared on Dorian Electra’s 2,500 Years of Drag.
Yet another heart-throb from the depths of Chicago’s gritty night streets, Nico is that club kid known for her strong contour, performance capabilities and messy aesthetic. A self proclaimed alien street walker, Nico has won the hearts of thousands of fans across social media with her powerful – and often terrifying – looks.
Creme Fatale: @cremefatale
Nobody does it as good as Creme. Proving that gals are just as valid, accepted and respected in queer spaces, Creme is San Fran’s crown jewel, blocking that face in every shade of blue, green and violet and adored from head to toe by Illinois’ party goers. Trying to find fault in any part of Creme is near on impossible.
Tyler Darke: @tyler_darke
One of the brightest new stars to be emerging onto the midnight streets of London, Tyler is not one to shy away from blocked looks, bursting in colour and concept. The club kid serves boldness through baldness and is an obvious fan of using geometry, elements of technology and primary colours in his work. An art student through and through, Darke immerses himself into his art and quite literally becomes it. A joy to see darting and dancing through London’s queer scene.
See a sneak peek of the interview/photoshoot with Sussi, now up on the website. A post shared by HISKIND Magazine (@hiskindmagazine) on Mar 5, 2017 at 9:57am PST
A recognisable face from issue one of HISKIND, SUSSI is the monochromatic walking art gallery drafting between continents, in search of the biggest and best clubs. You can check out our full interview and photoshoot from the fierce (and often terrifying) club kid here.
Elliott Barnicle: @elliottbarnicle
Whether isosceles, obtuse or acute, Mr Barnicle is the prince of the triangle and lover of all things geometric. Heralding from Birmingham and wowing stages across Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London, Elliott is one to watch. You can always expect a fierce contour, lots of colour, a fan and a chat at the bar with the chica. Proving it doesn’t always need a wig to be drag, Elliott is the face of what a clubber looks like in 2017
Ry Burke: @ryburk
An Instagram favourite and hero o many a youngster getting into club-kid aesthetics, Ry expresses “a perspective on human styling that does not rely on conventional clothing, hair, makeup or accessories but rather an aesthetic derived from the use of unusual materials to create otherworldly personas.” In with the likes of SUSSI and Amanda Lepore herself, Ry is 2017’s club art trailblazer and signpost of standard.
Charity Kase: @internetchav
Famed for his #100DaysofDrag (which later became 365 days because there are just so many god-damn looks she wants to get out there), Charity is one of London’s most impressive queens who knows how to utilise social media as a digital art gallery and visual CV. Picked up by pretty much every queer outlet out there, every day is Halloween for Ms Kase, with gag-able looks you hope appear in your nightmares one day.
A fashion designer by day and a piece of art by night, Timothé’s style is quintessentially French through and through. Blended reds, whites and blues matched with couture styles headpieces transforms this Parisian club kid into something that looks like a painting. Timothé’s looks demand that the French club scene doesn’t go ignored.
Also representing the Parisian queer scene, Tiggy’s looks somewhat resemble Mexican wrestling masks (and no doubt must have inspired Ashish’s SS17 collection), but with more glitter, glamour and artistry. Ever so pleasing to the eye, Tiggy’s looks are perfectly reflected, paralleled and follow a clean aesthetic. If it’s a Tiggy look, you know it’s Tiggy. Photo credit: Jean Ranobrac.
These looks are major, like, really really major. Expect mechanics, over the top artistry and a vast density not found amongst most queens. How LINUX – a self proclaimed robotic drag artist – navigates themselves around club and party environments is beyond us. A true artist and frequent parody to brands, LINUX is a spectacle.
Fag Ash: @fag_ash
Exploding onto London’s nightlife scene last year, Fag is one of the fastest growing and most widely adored hosts, DJs, club kids and drunken messes the city has to offer. A defined and refined aesthetic that screams both club and couture, there’s nothing holding back this rising star.
Luke Harris: @lukeylah
Ugh, just, ugh. Luke Harris is the UK MUA to keep your eye on time after time if you’re in the mood for perpetual gagging. Celebrated frequently by NYX, Luke blows what it means to be a makeup artist out of the water and can not only transform himself into creations that leave drag queens across the globe question their own talents, but can paint other performers for the gods. London’s clubbing sweetheart, there’s nothing Luke can’t do.
Lacey Lou: @laceymcfayden
Pretty much the UK’s answer to Creme Fatale, Lacey is a diverse and versatile bio-gal who slays the game with club kid and beauty looks. She can give you fierce one week and freaky the next. Birmingham’s dream girl, Lacey dedicates her life to ensuring the West Midlands’ LGBT scenes are diverse and not just Ariana Grande playing 8 times in the row. As a homage to her love of sparkles, her night Glitter Shit is a favourite amongst outer-London party goers.
Duo Raw: @duoraw
Visual ambassadors to nightlife, Duo Raw are the Scandinavian pairing that leave you with more questions than answers. Oozing in couture and bursting with club kid aesthetics, working as a duo has formed a strong, formidable and beautiful aesthetic for Mr and Mrs Raw. Last year alone saw this Swedish duo catch the eye of WOWpresents, with their own Besties for Cash and James St James videos.
A hunk out of drag and a piece of walking art in drag, Milk is the Drag Race alum still pulling look after look on New York’s dance floors. Though we originally planned NOT to include a RuGirl in this, how can we not admire and adore the insanity behind this dairy queen’s aesthetic. A model famed by the likes of Marc Jacobs, Milk is what drag is and should continue being in 2017.
This list is in no way exhaustive of our favourite night crawlers and face artists, but simply a sample of who we admire. There’s so much to see out there, beyond your social media. Douse yourself in sequins, glitter, paint and support your queer scenes, dance with your favourite club kids and be part of that iconic narrative.
Featured Image: Pat McGrathrea